Floating Solar

The loss of land space that could be used for other purposes under arrays of solar panels is an environmental issue. Solar panels designed to evade this problem while offering other climate-positive benefits, by being mounted on a structure that floats on a water body, has seen a rapid growth since 2016.


The Republic of Korea was among the first to pilot floating solar systems. In 2009, it tested a 2.4 kW and in October 2012, it constructed the world's first floating solar farm, a 500-kW commercial plant.

166,000 Solar Panels In China's Huainan Prefecture. The World's Largest Solar Floating Solar Farm So Far. It Sits On An Old Coal Mining Area that Was Artificially Flooded. SOURCE: KEVIN FRAYER/GETTY IMAGES

Features

They Are Typical Solar Panels With Special Mounting Systems

Floating solar are differentiated from other panels only by the mounting systems that allows them to float on a water surface. They are designed for strength, durability, buoyancy and to be able to resist the effects of waves and strong winds. They are also built to resist the growth of algae and other seaweeds on them and to be 100% recyclable.


They Generate More Electricity Than Land-Mounted Solar Panels

Because the efficiency of solar panels decreases with increase in temperature and due to the cooling effect of the water underneath the panels, floating solar panels are much more efficient than terrestrial ones by up to 12%.

Floating Devices On Which China Mounted Its Solar Panels SOURCE: KEVIN FRAYER/GETTY IMAGES
They Help Reduce Land Consumption

Floating solar solve what is a major problem for countries with a high population density, sparse or inaccessible land that could be made available for other uses and open and coastal and accessible water bodies. Countries like Japan, Singapore, the United Kingdom--countries with land consumption problems have all embraced floating solar. They do not require any land conversion efforts. Man-made water reservoirs and artificial lakes have become home to floating solar farms. In this way, they serve a dual purpose. According to the World Bank, 10% of Europe's man-made freshwater reservoirs has the potential to produce over 200 GWp if floating panels were installed.


They Save the Environment--In Some Ways

By covering the water’s surface, floating solar farms mitigate the effects of climate change by reducing increasing evaporation and maintaining high water levels. They also help reduce the growth of toxic algae, a serious environmental challenge in industrialized countries.

Source:K-Water Corporation
They Can Be Easily Tracked To Follow the Sun

Solar trackers are devices that follows the sun as it moves across the sky. When coupled with solar panels, they enable the panels to follow the path of the sun and produce more energy. Floating solar panels can be easily tracked remotely without the need of a and expensive complex mechanical apparatus as in land-mounted solar panels.


They Cost More to Build

Due to the extra requirements imposed by ecological considerations, they cost a lot more to manufacture. The extra 20-25% increase is decided by the special floating devices, tracking and monitoring systems.


They Maybe Hazardous if Not Properly Constructed

Floating solar involves water and electricity, a mix that can lead to catastrophic failures. This demands greater consideration to cable insulation design and management and post-installation maintenance. This is difficult enough in comparison to land solar.

They Are At The Risk of Corrosion

Due to frequent interaction with moisture, floating installations especially ones in aggressive coastal environments and saltwater regions are at risk of degradation and corrosion due to moisture.


They Do Some Damage to the Climate

Floating solar farms reduce the seabed's access to winds and sunlight. This damages ecological processes that occur underneath.


They Are Susceptible to Natural Disasters

Floating solar system are designed to float but they heighten the concerns of the effects of natural disasters like strong wind, high waves and floods, especially off-shore and coastal installations.


Though a recent phenomenon, floating solar is already making a major contribution to the decarbonisation of the world’s energy supplies. They are expected to double their territory by twice, as 10GW of floating solar is expected to be installed by 2025.

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